A posture of opposition to “Big Government” has become the vogue in the United States spending. U.S. Senators commonly use the idea of support for limited government as a justification for withholding from Americans the things that they need: Medical care, economic investment for jobs, education and Social Security. Yet, when it comes to the Patriot Act, all of a sudden, the talk of limited government fades away.
Think about what the Patriot Act allows. It permits agents of the federal government to secretly enter into Americans’ homes and places of work, to listen in on their private telephone conversations, and to seize personal records about their purchases, their communications, their travel, and many other things. In these days, when many Americans carry around GPS-enabled smart phones with multiple applications, the information that can be seized under the Patriot Act has become enormous. All of these things can be done without reasonable oversight, without the kind of search warrant that is required by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.
What’s more, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, a government body that was supposed to have been created to ensure that Patriot Act spying did not violate Americans’ constitutional rights, has no members. It does not meet. It has been allowed to become completely non-operational. That means that Americans have nothing to protect them from the surveillance powers of the Patriot Act.
That’s what big government looks like. The Patriot Act is the most clear violation of the concept of limited government.
In fact, the small number of documents about Patriot Act implementation that have been released show tens of thousands of violations of the law’s spying powers – and often, those violations have been directed against American citizens. Senate analysis of the Patriot Act’s most abusive surveillance powers has shown that the spying is directed against people connected to suspected terrorism only 0.04 percent of the time.
Yesterday, members of the United States Senate had the opportunity to stop the abusive Patriot Act spying against Americans. There was a cloture vote on S. 1038, the legislation crafted by Senator Harry Reid and Senator John McConnell to extend the unconstitutional spying of the Patriot Act for four more years.
So, what did the many senators who routinely complain about “big government” do? Did they block the big brother spying of the Patriot Act? No.
Only a handful of senators voted to stop the progress of the bill to extend the big government spying program. The senators who voted no were: Max Baucus, Mark Begich, Dean Heller, Jeff Merkley, Lisa Murkowski, Rand Paul, Bernard Sanders, and Jon Tester.
Everyone else went along with big government. Everyone else in the Senate decided to allow Big Brother to keep spying against Americans.